It Never, EVER, Fails

You know, those FUCK MY LIFE moments?

I haz ’em, frequently.

After going round with The Wifely Unit about this mower I picked up yesterday, I went and picked up a new Drive Belt for the Self Propelled feature.

The old one was obviously pretty worn.

No biggie, I got on Ye Olde Youtube and saw that it was a pretty straight forward thing that I should be able to knock right out.

For the most part, it was.

There was a little fucking around involved but not too bad.

There is a belt guard up underneath you have to take off after you get the blade off to get the belt over the engine shaft.

While I had the blade off I stuck it in the vise and gave it a quick sharpening.

There’s some pretty good sized dings and chips in it but those are cheap and plentiful.

It all went pretty good, the “New and Improved” belt that was an update turned out to be a little on the tight side but I got it on there.

That led to me discovering that there are only 3 bolts holding the engine to the deck when I went to put the belt guard back on and that the engine had pivoted on the one remaining bolt while I was fighting to get the belt on.

I pried it back and finished up.

I set the thing back down, yanked on the cord, it fired right up and when I gave just a little pull on the handle that engages the front drive wheels they took right off like they should.

Sweet!

Then I figured while I had the jack stands and shit out I would pick it up and drain the oil out. Again, not too bad with just the usual amount of fucking around.

Put the drain plug in, set it back on the ground, filled it with some 30 wt. oil, double checked the level and then gave it a yank to start it.

Nothing.

?!

WTF?

So I gave it another yank with the same results.

I have started that thing at least 7 or 8 times and it always started on the first pull.

This thing has a Briggs and Stratton engine on it with some EZ-Start system on it that I have never heard of but there is no damn choke on the thing. No stupid little Red Primer Bulb either.

After triple checking the oil level, making sure there was fresh gas in it and yanking on the bitch until I’m pretty sure I hurt my shoulder, I gave up in disgust and hit the Internet.

Not much on the Youtube for this exact model with this problem for some reason and come to find out, it’s been around a long damned time.

I fiddle fucked with it, took the covers off, tried Starting Fluid and just about everything I could think of. When I pulled the plug it was wet.

I have, AT LEAST 5, BRAND NEW spark plugs for the old Briggs and Strattons stashed away and not one of those fuckers matched this one.

I sat down to take a break, curse mightily under my breath and have a smoke while I pondered life and these little miseries. Pretty soon here comes The Wifely Unit and it was Game On.

She asked what was up, I explained what was going on and the flood gates opened up.

I asked her in her infinite wisdom to explain to me how draining and refilling the oil would cause it not to start.

She had to go to the store, I got back on the internets and found an article from a guy who had the problem of the thing starting fine cold but not starting after it got hot.

Down in the bowels of this Q&A article I discover they came out with an updated spark plug for these models.

I checked mine and it was the old one. I called up to my parts house, they didn’t have that plug in the Champion brand but they had the NGK brand.

I’ll take 2 I says.

She gets back from the store, I run up and get the plugs, come home and stick one in, say a quick prayer to the Saints of Internal Combustion, give the bastard a yank and it fired right up.

Why it fouled the plug picking it up to change the oil but not to change the belt will forever remain a mystery.

I threw everything back together, fired it back up and went around the whole yard again.

It ain’t all that and a bag of chips but it beat the shit out of having to push the damn thing.

The front wheels like to spin a lot, if a back wheel hits a rut you gotta push it to get it going, same with starting off going up hill.

BUT!

I managed to do the whole yard without having to stop and take a breather.

That my friends, is Mission Accomplished.

The fact that I just mowed it a few days ago made it easier I’m sure but it’s still miles ahead of having to push one all the way around.

I got done, came in the house and announced my success and then immediately told her it’s better but it still ain’t a Rider and that is coming. Of course that started the whole argument over again with her declaring that we don’t need a Riding Mower because the yard isn’t that big. I countered by pointing out the old guy across the streets yard is smaller than ours and he has one and once again, when you start mowing the fucking lawn, you can get whatever you want to do it with.

In the mean time I am going to start watching Craigslist for any FREE riding lawn mowers that don’t need complete overhauls and bide my time.

23 thoughts on “It Never, EVER, Fails

    • Naw, she’s actually a pretty awesome Wifely Unit. The reasons behind getting on my ass about this kind of stuff is to keep me from blowing money like a drunken sailor.
      Something that is very necessary and requires constant vigilance. 😂

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  1. I’m not commenting. After yesterday and the ass chewing on this blog, I’m afraid your new girlfriend, Sandy might start drinking again and hurt my feeling(1) twice in 24 hours.
    Or, worse yet send some ex marine hunting for me.

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      • I’ll take my chances with one of the female grizzlies that are just coming back from their winter sleep first.
        That lady yesterday delivered a smackdown that made me have bad dreams.

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        • Meh. I just assumed she needed some Midol and chocolate and she’d be better.

          See, I have this ‘wah-wah’ filter. Once conversation goes from understandable to, well, ‘wah-wah-wah’, it cuts in and I don’t hear it anymore. Just toss in a couple “Uh-huhs” once in a while, stop and listen to about every 24 sentences, and things are a-okay.

          And I, too, won on the wifely lottery. Just, well, sometimes I’m less deaf than I make myself out to be, if you know what I mean.

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  2. Reminds me of times where I was involved in something that should take 5 seconds and it ends up taking an hour. While it gets darker and/or wetter and/or colder. Real tests they are.

    Good on the NGK’s. Champion plugs are garbage. (In one of my lives I was in the commercial turf equpt business.)

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  3. I’m not sure of the type of carb you have there. Not God awful long ago, Briggs came up with an automatic choke, EPA regs, don’t you know. I had the same hot start problem that stumped me for a bit. Of you have the problem again, check and see if there in a bi-metal actuated arm in close proximity to the muffler. The muffler only has to loosen up a small bit, or be reassembled wrong to throw everything out of whack. It works in conjunction with the air vane. Cold, on. Air vane holds the choke off till the bi-metal heats up. Being hot and correctly working, the heat actuated arm holds the choke open for problem free hot start. Not working, the default position for the choke is closed, thanks to spring pressure..

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  4. Drain oil & no restart!!!! These little gas engines have a low oil sensor. Typically if you add exact amount….it may not be enough to satisfy the sensor = no start!!! Add a schoch (tech term) more oil above full line. Also….. while mowing if your having engine rough acting or just quit….. again… check the oil level… might need a schoch.

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    • I kept wondering about that myself. I checked it 3 times and it was right at the full mark. I did add a scooch anyway, thinking along those lines. Now I won’t know if it was that or the fouled plug.
      Either way, the damn thing runs again.

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      • I have seen this problem before in my years as a mechanic, if you have a propane torch use it to burn the gas of the plug, a warm plug will fire off a lot easier! Now that you found a updated plug to fix it good job!!!

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  5. I never could get used to front drive mowers. Had one for less than half a season when I cut lawns and went back to a big heavy old rear drive snapper. When I moved back to the country I mowed with a rider then transitioned to mowing a few times a summer with a bush hog on my tractor. Still trim up with the rider and a walk behind string trimmer.

    Just a heads up..you might want to check those harbor freight jack stands. They look similar the ones I had and they recalled a bunch of them.

    Try to find affordable jack stands that are made in the USA. Not just assembled from chinese parts and have American flags stuck on them-looking at you Hein Warner.

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  6. Glad you won. Agree on everyone saying Champion plugs suck. They used to be good. Had a set from the 50’s, what is called now New Old Stock, what the rest of us call ‘old stored shit’ that worked far better than the 2000’s brand fucking new Champions.

    For better traction, make sure the grooves in the wheels aren’t filled up with stuff and mud. And if the mower starts getting ‘skippy’ feeling, plunk a chunk of weight on the front to hold down the wheels.

    As to tools, had a female friend ask me, seriously, why guys have like 40-60 screwdrivers. Well, because we’re men, dearie… It’s what we do. And as any guy knows, you need a set of tools in each ride, a couple sets in the garage, some jammed into one of the kitchen drawers, some in a portable tool bag for plumbing repair, some in a tool bag for drywall and wood repair, some in a bag for metal and electrical work, a spare bag just in case… That’s how we end up with 40-60 screwdrivers. Not to mention seeing them lying on the road and just stopping and picking up one. And seeing a lonely tool at a garage sale, or a flea market..

    Hmmm… Wonder how many screwdrivers I really have?

    As to sockets, I’ve got 4 of those ‘worm’ lure boxes full of 1/4 and 3/8 drives. And for some reason I have 12 10mm sockets.

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  7. Rings are probably a little worn. If you tilted it off level putting on jackstands it will leak a little bit of oil past the rings and foul the plug. It doesn’t take much!! I know from experience.

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    • Ah! I knew something was funky about tilting lawnmower engines and you hit it on the head. Crappy or worn motors don’t like being tilted. Memory returns. Thanks!

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  8. My Dad taught me when I was a kid that if you have to tilt a vertical shaft engine that it should always be spark plug up for this very reason. This was right after I had tilted it the wrong way while cleaning something or the other out from being wrapped around the blade. The blue smoke cloud of burnt oil was pretty thick when we finally got it started. He was a WW2 Army-trained mechanic, and boy could he tell some great stories!!!

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    • For the same reason, don’t lift the front end to attack tall grass/weeds. Better to nibble at tall stuff with a narrow slice with the side of the mower, so it runs properly and doesn’t burn the oil.

      I’m wondering if they powered the front wheels to encourage people to avoid this sort of thing. Plus, it may be safer to not lift the deck and expose the blade so to avoid launching objects at the neighborhood. Lifting it is when you tend to really whack that blade into rocks and other stuff that chews it up.

      I much prefer using a rear wheel drive mower. Got a new Toro self-propelled/electric start mower in ’06 to use on 4-5 homes. (Toro still makes the same model, saw it in HD and at the service center for the professional lawn care guys.) Still has the original rear drive belt. Had to replace the rear axle bearings last year, and threw on a new blade, as I think I have gone through the surface hardening. Started getting dull often. About $425, IIRC. Gets used most of the year. About time for new rear tires. Unfortunately, you can’t swap the front wheels to the rear, as they aren’t set up to mount the drive gear plate. Bummer.

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  9. Phil, I suspect that if you received a free riding lawnmower directly from the factory, you would find several things that needed to be fixed and you would still spend all your extra time working on it !!

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  10. Phil: Have a JD riding mower you can have, however it is in eastern colo so mebe one of your compadres can tailgate it up there for you this summer. Has some piddly issues as I remember that you’d be just the guy that would be able to ferret out. Was my Dad’s, wasn’t a diesel, so it is irritating to even look at, and not being the right shade if green as in Oliver tractors. It even has the honda motor fix for dealing with the original problem plagued motor. lovies soapweed 303 9twonine 4eight65 leave message for edna.

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    • I really appreciate the offer. I don’t know anyone planning on coming or going that way though. I do have to say that the look on my wife’s face would be priceless to see if someone pulled up out front with that sitting in the back of a pickup looking to drop it off.

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